E101: Beginning Electro for the Classical Musician

I put this together for a friend that is interested in learning some about electronic music but has mainly listened to classical music in the past.  She agreed with me when I said that electronic music is where everything new in music is happening and she asked me to put together a list of where to start.  Feel free to pass this on to anyone that might be in a similar situation.
-prof. k

Something to keep in mind when listening to electronic is that it is taking sound in directions unexplored by a lot of other music and it can take a little effort to train your ear to hear and appreciate the additional dimensions.  Some key elements of electronic music that are either expressed in a different way, not as emphasized, unexplored, or impossible with classical music are its rhythm, texture, depth, and ambiance.  Of course there are some classical and electronic pieces that emphasize some of these more than others and not necessarily all of them, but my experience has been that electronic musicians are doing incredible things that musicians of all types should observe.

So, here are some starters.  Feel free to offer your opinions positive or negative and let me know what you like so i can either help you find the full albums or send you something different.  sorry that there’s so much.

Burial: british dubstep producer.  does amazing work with texture, rhythm, and atmosphere

clubroot: another british dubstep producer similar to burial with a bit more low end exporation

jonny greenwood: guitarist of radiohead that also does compositions for bbc orchestra.  here’s something from a soundtrack where he mixed electronic and classical
but i actually like his purely classical stuff rather than the mixed media better. this is from the there will be blood soundtrack

infinite body: very drawn out ambient music with lots of repetition.  a form of minimalism

tim hecker is similar:

pantha du prince: german minimal house producer. i think his music is also akin to classical minimalism in that themes enter and exit, collide and build.  his tones are so pretty too

the field: more of a rougher minimal house producer.

royksopp: swedish guys.  they basically make perfectly crafted songs.  their highs are so tasty

fever ray: swedish woman who modulates her voice to blur gender roles.  in this song she is a mother singing about her child.  pretty creepy so be warned.

ben frost: icelandic dude who makes freaky electronic/classical music that makes you feel like you’re in the dead of winter

four tet: british guy who uses lots of organic sounds

bibio: folk/electronic blend.  pretty beat heavy

fuck buttons: noise rock musicians. they shape unpleasant sounds into fun driving rhthyms.  the music builds and builds.

james blake: british dubstep producer with lots of r&b influence.

great exploration of texture in this song. 

a lot of this is getting into the real of very advanced electronic music listening so no worries if you don’t like it all.  there are a lot of people who get freaked out by fever ray and who don’t have the patience for some of the more minimal stuff to develop.

also… this isn’t as high art as the other electronic music i listed, but thought i’d include it in case your favorite classical is Bach counterpoint or something like that
ratatat – lots of interweaving guitar  youtube link

hope you like some of this…
-prof. k



  1. […] E101: Beginning Electro for the Classical Musician […]

  2. Really nice little write up Professor K, I’m going to have to share this with others. Will there be a E102? How about like an E310, where you explore Autechre…


    • E102 is a term 2 course that will explore spring and summer dance electro. I may bring in JMac as a guest lecturer for Autchre E310. Can I enlist you as head TA for the electro creation lab?

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